Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: January 26, 2009 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412964623 | Print ISBN: 9781412936361 | Online ISBN: 9781412964623| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
The funeral, along with birth and marriage, is a major life ceremony in many African cultures because it encompasses the full transmission of life. The numerous rituals associated with the preparation and placement of the body, mourning, securing the destiny of the deceased, establishing a new relationship with the deceased, and restoring of communal relationships reflect an affirmation of the continuity of life. There are variations in funeral rites according to the age, marital status, and community standing of the deceased. The most elaborate funerals are held for wise, prominent elders. Funerals for those who are younger, unmarried, or childless are less intricate. Although not considered funerals, there are specific rites for children who have died because they are considered spirits who did not wish to stay in this world. Generally speaking, there are several fundamentals to African funerals, although ethnic and aesthetic traditions differ. The first is that the ...